If Tetris is the first step to bringing Game Boy to the US market, Pokemon is the springboard for Nintendo to become an actual billionaire in the game industry.
Continuing the article on the Game Boy’s glorious 30th anniversary, if at the beginning of Nintendo had captured the US market with Tetris, that was not enough to go further. By 1996, another legendary game appeared and could turn Nintendo into a true giant: Pokemon.
But before Pokemon fly to the US and achieve the success we all know, its journey is quite impressive. There are two reasons why Nintendo executives in the United States are concerned about the success of Pokemon. The first was the length too considerable for a Game Boy game when Pokémon Red and Blue’s content at that time kept increasing. Over time, the developers fear that there will be no way to deliver them to the world.
The second reason is more important about the local culture. In Japan, Pokemon’s game version is significantly supported by Anime, manga, and many other toys; these things are still extraordinary in the US. Children will not be interested in a game with content so big that they do not know anything.
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Another problem was directly related to the Game Boy hardware, as Nintendo managers in the US worried that its monotonous black and white image would hardly attract players to Pokemon. At that time, Nintendo was pretty much inferior to Sony and Sega about the most flexible character design for teenagers, its tall buildings didn’t like it at all, and they put Hope a lot on Pokemon.
Suppose it wants to release Pokemon successfully in the US market and beyond to the world. In that case, Nintendo will have to create an ecosystem similar to what it has done in Japan, including manga, comics, anime, trading card games, and even toys. But if Pokemon were to succeed in Japan, at least Nintendo would like to see its potential in the US market.
Many opinions raised whether to change the name, the structure of the game, or the number of Pokemon that appear. But in the end, Nintendo decided to keep all 151 of the original Pokemon unchanged, and they reached an agreement with 4Kids Entertainment to help with the release of sideline products for the game. Finally, the legendary ” Gotta catch ’em all ” was chosen to shape the series.
Nintendo plans to show the anime about Pokemon a few weeks before the game is released, give viewers a relatively good view of the game, and ignore the prejudice of a game that sounds too long on the console. A hand like Game Boy. But things were not going well for Nintendo, as TV channels were not very keen on Pokemon and were quite hesitant to get it on air.
4Kids Entertainment has proposed changing the approach, whereby Nintendo will use more direct ways to bring Pokemon directly to viewers. Golin Harris, the head of Nintendo North America’s advertising division, had a unique idea: they would turn 10 Volkswagen Beetles into Pikachu shape.
Next, there will be ten free actors in the typical yellow costume parachuting from the sky of Topeka City (Kansas). They will drive these Volkswagen Pikachu across the United States, advertising to everyone about Pokemon as well as the demo. The campaign was so successful that Topeka became known as Pikachu, and Volkswagen Pikachu cars became a symbol of Pokemon.
Nintendo spent about $ 20 million (on par with the time when Game Boy was brought to the US) for this campaign, and they finally got the results when Warner Bros. put Pokemon anime on the air and screen it all over the country. The Pokemon craze quickly became a phenomenon when it topped the list of the most popular anime 14 weeks in a row, paving the way for the first movie to appear only half a year later with huge sales for Nintendo.
As for the Pokemon game that landed on Game Boy, it was even better for Nintendo when they sold 400,000 copies in just the first week. More than half a year later, that number increased to 10 and ended the round. His life with 31 million copies worldwide. By the end of 1999, that was just over a year after Pokemon debuted in the US, sales of the series had skyrocketed more than $ 7 billion – an unbelievable number.
It can be said that Pokemon has almost single-handedly turned Nintendo into the current significant force. None of Nintendo’s titles have achieved the same success as the Pokemon series. Within four years of its launch, Pokemon has sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, more significant than anything ever appeared.